Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tread, suck and run...

This is just a catch-up post. Nothing grand or exciting, just some regular old blogging about the life of me.

OK, who am I kidding? I'm going to probably chat about cancer, kids, racing and auburn hair dye on hair that is 6 inches shorter. The point is, I'm not sure what I'm going to type out here. Most times when I sit down to blog, I have already been mentally typing it out before I ever get to the computer. Today's is just a type as I go day.

I did have a wonderful saying earlier when I was on the phone with a friend. I was explaining that I was in the deep end of the pool and I was tired of treading water. I was just having one of those moments. Amazingly enough, it was not about Mother's cancer, rather it was about my mother in law. I'm sure that somewhere in here Mother's cancer is factoring into the depression/deep end on some level, but today, it was the MIL that sparked the fiery decent into waterdom. Or maybe it was the discussion with Speedy last night about the house addition. (Hello Boggan, please call me if by some miracle of a chance you've seen this blog as it's a year later and we still have not added on and desperately need your help and really I normally try to not have run-on sentences but I am desperate.) The house addition/MIL issues will have to be a post unto their own as they are both worthy blog fodder.

Anywho, today I was in the deep end and sinking fast. When this happens, my poor friends are normally the ones whom I call for the SOS. (Thanks Lo!) As I was trying to collect myself to talk reasonably and not be a blubbering fool with snot running out her nose as I drove, I explained that I was just going to suck it up. That's what I do. I suck it up and keep on going. However, as I warned my friend, someone better grab the room freshener, because one day, all that sucking up was going to product one big, fat, ugly fart on humanity. After all, that which is sucked up must be pushed out somewhere. And God bless the humanity around me when it does blow back out!

So, while this is not an even remotely interesting blog post for the three readers I have, I thank my friends who are out there reading. Please know that I will try to keep the hot air from hitting you when it does expend.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Begging for help...

I am not very good at begging. In fact, it's very hard for me to even ask for help. What I will do though, is ask you to read this link. If you feel like writing, please do. If you don't, please forward this to those you think might read it and maybe they'll respond. Getting the word out about this cancer has become important to me. I realize that there are over 200 different types of cancer. I realize that it's a rare form and not many people will have to deal with it or even know anyone that deals with it. If we can just get the word out though, maybe, just maybe, down the road someone will have read/heard about it and ask their doctor. Maybe they will ask their doctor about their not so normal symptoms and ask if it might be. Or maybe they'll remember a distant /not so distant relative that had it and ask for the CA 19-9 and a CT Scan. And maybe that person will find out before it's Stage IV B, when it's too late for surgery. Or maybe someone's child will have heard about this and go into cancer research. And maybe that research will benefit not just pancreatic cancer, but all cancers.

Here's my letter:

As someone who has been touched by pancreatic cancer, I am deeply concerned that it has remained the deadliest cancer and that there are currently no early detection tools or prevention methods and few effective treatments for this disease. The House passed Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill provides a mere 1.9% increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and an even more dismal 1.5% increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Along with thousands of other cancer advocates, I am requesting a 6.7% increase for the NIH and NCI.

The Senate Committee version of the bill is slightly better than that passed by the House, but still leaves cancer research, and particularly pancreatic cancer research, under-funded. As your constituent, I am asking for your help to address this issue. Please let your leadership know that the current funding levels for the NIH and NCI are too low and that cancer research needs to be a higher priority in the final Labor-HHS bill.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death. An estimated 37,170 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 75% of them will die within the first 3-6 months of their diagnosis because there are currently no early detection tests and no effective treatments for this disease. Currently, only 5% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive more than 5 years. It is unlikely that the NIH and NCI will be able to make the scientific breakthroughs that are needed if funding is not increased.

I understand that there are many decisions that you face everyday. However, as my sister and I face losing my mother to pancreatic cancer, I beg of you to please, please see that this funding is available. I don't know if you've been touched personally by cancer. For us, we went from thinking Mother had a stomach/gallstone issue to knowing she has Stage IVB Pancreatic Cancer with mets to the liver within a week. One week. That week changed our lives forever. Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and sneaky. By the time symptoms show up, it is most likely at stage IV. The strong chemo she is on is buying us time. Time to tell each other we love, we forgive and thank you. That chemo is costing us twice as much as it would if we were to get it from Canada or another country. I realize that this request is not about how much the drugs cost, but it is something that needs to be brought to your attention. Not only do patients have to deal with the fact that their disease is life ending, the drugs they are on are a "wait and see" approach. Not enough research has been done to find the best chemos for pancreatic cancer. When you're looking at a life span after diagnosis of 3-6 months without treatment, maybe 11 months with, there is not enough time to "wait and see."

I realize that this funding will not arrive in time to save my Mother. Only God can do that at this point. Perhaps though, this funding will help me or my sister or my son and daughter down the road. Perhaps, this funding will save our lives and those family members who are going through what we are.

Should you have any questions about what it's like to deal with pancreatic cancer, please feel free to email me.

As your constituent, I hope that I can count on you to speak with your leadership and tell them to make cancer research a higher priority in the final Labor-HHS bill. Please add your support to this fight and help ensure that pancreatic cancer research can move forward.

Thank you,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reservation for Sanity Retention/Regeneration


I am writing to confirm my reservation at the MarLo House in Fairhope, AL for the nights of August 23rd - August 24th. I will be checking in around lunch on the 23rd and checking out around lunch on the 25th. From our previous negotiations, the payment of at least one jar of cranberry fig preserves will be due in full at time of check-in. Should this payment deem unacceptable, please notify me as early as possible. I do plan on visiting the Mathis facility before departure should you require any additional forms of payment. Also, if you could obtain any orders from the locals that know of the Mathis offerings, I would gladly procure additional items.

If there should be a cancellation of my reservation, notification is due at least 24 hours in advance, though you will probably know ahead of time when the news broadcasts about the freezing temperatures in hell.

I appreciate the opportunity to experience your facility and look forward to the experience.

Thank you,

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dear, dear telemarketers, when will you learn?

Everyone has those calls. The ones that will only take a "moment" of your time. Ones that ask you to just "help out" for this worthy cause. I have helped out in the past for some causes I felt were just. However, this year, this moment really, I will not be helping out. And when I tell you I will not be helping out, do not proceed to tell me how bad your cause has it and how it is my responsibility to help. Do not tell me that they cannot make it without my help. 'Cause let me tell you something, if they would take the money that they pay you to solicit help on the phone lines, that would save them their much needed money.

I had such a call this morning, just now in fact. It was for a cause that normally I would support. That poor, script-ridden lady had no idea what she was in for. I explained that at this time it was not possible to help out. I was nice and courteous. She did not understand. She actually made the mistake of trying to keep me on the phone to tell me about different monetary ways I could give. I did try to take nice, long, deep breaths. Tried to tell myself that this person, with the nasal northern accent, had no clue what was going on in my life and I should be considerate. Fuck that.

I explained again to her that this was not a good year for me to be giving money to her cause. I explained to her that my mother has pancreatic cancer. She again tried to get me to give. I explained to her that I am losing my mother & most likely will have to use my own funds to help cover the ever-rising cost of health care. I explained that while my mother did qualify for disability, it only allowed $700 a month and did not include Medicare. That $700 does not even pay for the insurance bill, much less the rent, utilities and living expenses. I also explained to her that of the types of cancers out there, pancreatic cancer has the least amount of funding, yet is the most aggressive killer. Would she like to give to the pancreatic cancer fund? Would she? That help would be most appreciated at this time. There are a number of ways that she could help out. She could go online*. She could tell one other person about pancreatic cancer and the symptoms so they could tell another person. She could get on her knees and pray that the next person we vote into the oval office has some fucking clue as to the current state of our health care system. But she could not get me to commit to funding her current cause.

At that point I wished her good day and hung up.

Take care - me

A few sites:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fabulous Friday to Torrid Tuesday

CT Scans showed no growth!! WooHoo!! Great news to say the least. She was also able to start her next round of chemo and did not even have to have the stomach injection of EPO for low RBC. (A savings of around $1800) And no, I did not mention a word to Mother about getting ticked at work the day before. Honestly, with the chemo fog she's going through right now, it's very possible she just forgot. The first "F" can have additional meaning for Friday nights as the kids stay with the in-laws! YEA!!

Speed Driven Saturday:
Mother came to pick Moosie up for a girls-night pj party after lunch. I made a mad dash into town to stock up on yogurt, dog food and to help my sister pick out her laser printer. We rushed back to LLL in time to unload shopping and reload all that was heading to the race track with us. (ice, frozen water bottles, ice, water, clothes to dip in the ice, oh and the video recorder) It was 100º at the track and I just don't see how Speedy can stand the heat when he's wearing the 3-layer fire suit. Mother, in the mean time, had called to tell me she was taking Moosie to the rodeo. Oh normal, calm life, where did you go? Will you come back now, please?
---- I will back up in time here & let you know that our son, Rokimus, had his first ever go cart race a couple of weekends ago. He did quite well, seems to be a natural, and I really didn't sprout too many new gray hairs until the announcer came over the speakers to tell us that the little Rokimus driver was OK and noone got hurt. You see, he pulled into the pits without brakes, slamming his cart into another one waiting to go out. He's fine, I'm buying stock in Clairol. He finished the feature race at 3rd place. We'll race his again on Sept. 1.----
Speedy finished third in his feature after scrubbing the wall and getting really close to another racer as he passed them. I was even home before midnight!

Slow, Sundry Sunday:
We slept in. Did you hear that?! We actually slept until around 8:30am! It's been a long time since that's happened. Even Rokimus, the 5 amer, slept until 9am. We did go to church, even me, so no, that wasn't an earthquake you felt, just me going to the Southern Baptist Facility in the backyard. We also found out that Speedy was nominated to be a deacon. ::silence... then sudden bursts of laughter:: While I do believe it to be an honor to be nominated for such a position, and that to help out a house of God is great, I mean, come on. They do know he's married to me don't they?! The one who doesn't believe in moving "letters" or that there should be "membership" for a place of worship. Anywho, we'll find out next Sunday if he's got the gig. I also got to taste the world's worst meatloaf, titled Stuffed Apple Meatloaf. Run, run fast if you are ever served this. Sunday also saw me doing little of nothing other than laundry, tidying up, helping Speedy get the race car ready for washing, etc. Found out that Moosie chased the calves and sat on a bull. Clairol, what is your stock price now? I did actually stay up late, watching the Princess Diana special on TLC until about 11:30pm when I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

Manic, Mean Monday:
We'll begin this day at midnight. With a call from Sister, who has Mother, and is on their way to the ER due to rising fever. I meet them there and we all enjoy the lovely ER facility until, around 3am they release Mother to go back home after running the blood tests, doing the X-rays and putting her on antibiotics. (this brings her to around 7 pills at breakfast & supper, including the oral chemo) I get home around 3:30am, finally go to sleep around 4:15am to be up again shortly after 7am to see the kids off to school. Speedy was wonderful & tried to let me sleep as long as possible. After getting the kids off, I got ready & headed to Mother's. I spent a good deal of the morning massaging her feet and holding her hand as pain would arch her back and make her pant. After the pain pills kicked in, things seemed to go better. I also worked the store for a couple of hours while getting her prescriptions refilled to the tune of around $175, and that's the copay amount. She was much better by evening & I finally got home around 5pm. Let me note here that I am NOT a person that deals well on little to no sleep. I also prayed for those that had to deal with me on this day.

Torrid Tuesday:
I realize that today could have been Terrific Tuesday, but I feel any day that starts with going to Walmart cannot be terrific. Also, any day that the bathtub gets scrubbed, the turtle case gets cleaned and the temp reaches over 100º in the shade is torrid. I did make the wonderful broccoli salad that Marcus sent me the recipe for. Thank goodness I made it since Granny served up the infamous leftover meatloaf from hell for supper tonight. I did know she was serving it & was able to call Speedy at work to forewarn him. He had a meeting to attend after work and was unable to make it home to eat. He owes me. BIG. Ellie did come home today with a more difficult book. Yesterday's lasted 15 minutes. These books are supposed to be read over the course of a week. I requested a more challenging book. It took her about 40 minutes to complete. We'll try again tomorrow.

Take care - me

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Random Shit Thursday!

That's right folks, I'm deeming today Random Shit Thursday. Because it's just been that kind of day. You know the kind I'm talking about. The kind of day that starts off semi-bad and just goes straight to hell and on the way there, the basket you're riding in just bursts into flames.

Like getting to work to find out that the stuff another person (your Mother, say) was supposed to do a few days ago - was NOT done. And of course, you can't really get mad at your mother because she's got a really bad case of cancer and is dying. Because if you did go off and let all this work crap off your chest, then months down the road, you'd feel lower than beetle shit.

The kind of day when you're telling your hubby about this day and all it's glory and the house electricity just goes off. Gone. Nothing. And of course, it just goes off long enough to have to go throughout the house resetting all the clocks and trying to get your 8-year old back-up, account-holding Mac back up and running. That kind of day.

I'm sure that on top of all of this random shittiness, it does not help that tomorrow we find out the results of Mother's CT scan is looming. Or that we've actually started discussing funeral arrangements for her. Or that her mother is coming to visit in the next month or so. God help us all.

Take care & I hope that tomorrow is Fucking Awesome Friday! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Not going on about the trip...

OK, so you've seen some of the pictures. I still have 4 rolls of film to be sent off and I've only posted about 1/4 of the images shot. Wisconsin is absolutely amazing to me. The landscape is truly God's country. The "hills"(mountains) and valleys that nestle farms in their arms are breathtaking. And if it didn't get so dang cold in the winter time, we would probably be living there. I was offered a job at Organic Valley about 5 years ago, but we turned it down.

So, I'm not going to go on and on about this trip. I'm just not. I'm so not going to tell you about the canoe trip down the Kickapoo River. Like how we went in at Bridge 8 and were told to get off the river at Bridge 12. Or how Hubby & I have never canoed in our lives. Or how the kids really enjoyed riding in between the two of us in the canoe. I'm also quite certain that you don't want to hear about the beautiful flowers that lined the banks in areas, or how you could canoe under a cliff side of wonderful rock that had trees growing from the edge 30 feet above in other areas. Or how there were about 12 canoes of my relatives also on the river at the same time. Only not with us. There were a couple canoes near us, but you probably won't care anything about hearing that they gave us wrong directions. THERE IS NO BRIDGE 12. NONE. Here's where, if I were going to go on & on about our trip, I would tell you about the realization that we are too far past to go back, there is NO turning around in a river and that the reason everyone (but us) gets off at 12 is due to the amount of debris south of there. I also wouldn't tell you about me paddling for all I was worth, come branch or high water, to get us the hell out of that river! Even if my power paddling would run us into rocks, trees, branches, etc. Even if Hubby's paddle wouldn't reach quite far enough to knock some sense into me.

So, if I were going to tell you about the Kickapoo River, I would probably tell you that there is no Bridge 12 so if you miss it, don't expect to get off at 13 either. You'll need to go on down to 14 where the canoe rental guys will be waiting for you along with about 40 of your closest relatives.

St. Louis

Marcus has asked if we went to the top of the Arch. Yes, we did. Even I, who on the worst day, has trouble with a step ladder, went to the top. The timing couldn't have worked out better as we were up there for the sunset. However, there were many people up there and these days I'm very conscience about germs. We really enjoyed it & here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure. I also have more WI pictures to upload, but have not taken the time to downsize them for this.

Take care - Me
Inside the Arch ~ This was a relief carving. Amazing.

Inside the Arch, while waiting to get onto the "pod."~ This shows how the final piece was put into place at the top.
Inside the Arch at the top ~ Looking down from the top of the Arch.

The Arch ~ I could photograph this structure all day long.